The SNP has expressed frustration as the UK government failed to commit to protect Scotland’s Post Offices after leading a debate in the Commons last Thursday.
In a debate on the sustainability of the Post Office network, SNP Small Business spokesperson Marion Fellows MP called for the preservation of the Post Office network through better remuneration for postmasters and a review of the process of franchising offices. Despite these concerns, UK Minister for Postal Affairs Kelly Tolhurst seemed more concerned with protecting profits than the Post Office network, saying “Post Office Limited is increasingly profitable”.
This comes a week after the Post Office announced that, following SNP pressure, from October 2019, Sub-postmasters will receive better financial remuneration from the Post Office Ltd for key banking services that they provide to the public. Last month, Gavin Newlands MP had reiterated SNP calls to give Sub-postmasters a fairer settlement in his own Commons debate.
The National Federation for Sub-Postmasters reported last week on a survey of their members which found one in five Post Offices risk closing in the next year as the poor remuneration from Post Office Limited, which sees many postmasters paid less than minimum wage for running their shops.
Speaking after her debate, SNP Small Business spokesperson Marion Fellows MP said:
“The UK Government is sitting on its hands while the Postmaster crisis grows out of control and the Post Office network is allowed to crumble.
“It’s incredible that a UK Minister would spend so much time praising increasing profits when it’s clear that this comes at the expense of hard-working postmasters.
“Whilst the Tories oversee the managed decline of a valued public service and institution by facilitating a Postmaster crisis, urgent action is needed to secure the Post Office’s sustainability and success in communities across Scotland – and the whole of the UK.
“The UK government refuses to listen to communities and businesses which rely on Post Offices and the Sub-Postmasters who runs them. As the special shareholder, the Tories need to commit to a full and independent review of Sub-Postmaster pay.
“Plans to close Crown branches at the centre of our communities must be reversed to ensure the full range of services people have enjoyed are still available. Services also need to be expanded so that branches can continue to be a service hotspot and support high streets.”